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Confused About Career

How to find your desired career path when you are undecided. Choose a career path that lasts

July 31, 2021

Which career path should I pursue? An 8 step practical guide

What is a career path?

A career path is the job position you take up as you advance in your career. Your education and the first job typically play a big role in deciding your career path but it’s not uncommon for people to follow non-traditional career paths or switch their paths entirely early on.

Some people advance in their career paths by acquiring experience, knowledge, and skills. Others switch career paths laterally and sometimes people go back to school to make drastic career path shifts. If you are wondering which career path to pursue then read on.

Here are a few examples of career paths:

  • In the “Human Resources Domain”. A career path is Labor Relations >>HR Specialist>> HR Manager
  • In the “Accounting Domain”. A career path is Bookkeeping clerk >> Accountant >> Finance Manager

You can find a list of career pathways at the Minnesota State CAREERwise website.

How to select a career path?

You have probably already read several guides on choosing career paths and have perhaps reflected on how easy it was to answer this question when you were younger. When we’re little, we’re constantly asked the question: “what do you want to be? At this point, it’s typically easy to answer the question.

As we progress on our education ladder choosing a career path typically becomes difficult. Amongst other things a lack of opportunities in the typical areas that most around us choose creates a lot of confusion when it comes to choosing your career path. What career should I choose?

Career paths may seem straightforward but are accompanied by many diversions, detours, and sometimes stops. It is important to be informed about the career path you choose but at the very least it is critical to have your personal framework on choosing your career.

Top career path myths

In this section, we bust the biggest myths that you have heard regarding career paths. These typically have been passed on across generations are not true in today’s day and age.

There is a perfect job/career path for me

While this may be true but it’s very difficult to understand what that right job/career path is without any real experience. We see many people getting overwhelmed with finding the perfect fit and making their choices too narrow. It’s not unnatural for them to not like that career choice once they make it there.

My education major is going to directly govern my career path

For specialist skills such as nursing, doctors, and others this is correct but we have seen people find their way into career paths that their education majors have no direct role to play in. A couple of years down the road people even forget the major that someone graduated with. The world of work is changing a lot and learning has a half-life.

My career path will remain the same in my lifetime

This statement could be further away from the truth and inundates the candidates a whole lot. It is important to choose the right career path but remember that the average person changes career paths 4 – 7 times in their lives.

I just have to wait for my job applications to take me to the right career path

This is leaving your career path to chance and not a choice. We have seen people succeed with this many times but you could do a lot better if you make informed choices.

Career assessment tests can help me know what is the right career path for me.

Typically such assessments and tests help you channel your thoughts and establish a framework that makes you think. Take the results as indicative as these can definitely help in the process but are not the final truth.

Lots of voices!!! Which opinions should I value?

Careers are something that everyone seems to have an opinion on. And the answer differs depending on who you speak to. Sometimes those who you speak to tend to give you the data they have at the top of their head or are passing on their own preferences as advice. So how does one cut through the clutter?

Career Crossroads

A career path is about your own life choices and is about what route you follow. No matter what choices you make your career path is bound to change.

“It’s a marathon and not a sprint”.

If you meet people who say that their career paths have been smooth sailing forever, they are either probably very lucky or are lying. You should ask them to buy the lottery and you will come to know which one’s which.    

As you think about your career path your choices will involve several trade-offs and you will need to resolve conflicts between differing opinions, hence it is important to create a personal template governing the choices that you make.

 

Here is our 8 step guide on choosing a career path.

Reflect and Assess Yourself

As a first step; see what you have to think about your own career. Be honest with yourself. This is a self-assessment that you will not share with anyone else and it will help you craft your personal journey.

Some of the questions to reflect on here could be:

  • Is money important to me?
  • How much money do I require?
  • If I had to choose between quality of work and money, what choice would I make?
  • Is work-life balance important to me? What kind of lifestyle do you want?
  • What are my interests, skills?
  • Do I have a passion for certain kinds of work?
  • What are my core values?
  • Is there some type of work that I definitely see myself doing, is there some work I don’t see myself doing?

Make a List of Occupations to Explore

List all the occupations/job titles you see yourself in. Don’t be too selective at this stage. Just eliminate what you don’t have the educational requirements or any interest in. A good place to start is with this link that provides you with a list of occupations.

Get the data

You would want to know the career prospects of the job you want to get. There are several good places to get this and doing some research on Quora, Medium or Reddit is usually useful.

A pro-tip here is to visit your favorite job board or freelancing website (in the case of gig jobs) and see how many and what kind of jobs are on offer. This will give you a good flavor of the current demand. You must also think of the longevity of the career option. E.g. Data scientists are likely to be in high demand but the telecom sector is likely to reduce the workforce due to automation. Bear in mind that job demand is regional and it’s important to search with filters of cities that you are open to working in.

Talk to people

This is a good way to gain the perspectives of those who are already in the industry and are already working in roles of your choice. Not only does this give you a perspective but provides you with some hacks that others have already used to get there faster. So go ahead and search those people in your network, or ask for references. If nothing clicks then don’t be shy in reaching out to people on LinkedIn – keep your note short and well-intentioned to see if people are willing to give it back to the community.

Remember to talk to people who know you well and also to people who don’t know you so well to get honest advice.

Identify Your Goals and make your career choice

Combining all the above information will help you prioritize and brainstorm the right career choice for you. You should by now have enough information on what’s right for you.

Begin

Mix and Match

If you are unable to come up with direct hits you may want to look at areas that combine two career categories or your passions. Bioinformatics, automation engineering are some of the options. Just be careful and think about the effects of going too narrow or too niche.

Make a plan

See how your skills, interests, qualifications fit in and how you need to bridge that gap. At this stage, it is extremely important to apply a filter of reality and see if you are prepared for a harder climb if you don’t meet that filter.

e.g. if a certain job is only filled by people from ivy-league backgrounds your chances are very little, to begin with in the first place. In such cases, you will also need that extra x-factor to get a chance to make it to your dream job.

Action your plan and persevere

It’s important to not give up on the first disappointment as pursuing a career path requires perseverance. However, it is important to ensure that you are in the right direction. Employing a career coach or a career buddy (a peer or a friend) with who you can discuss things is a good way to stay on track.

This article is brought to you by Sukiru (Japanese for Skills). Sukiru is your personalized Career GPS that helps you with strategic planning, career diagnostics, and job search. It is based on job market intelligence and the needs of employers.

We are coming up with several features that can help you with your lifelong career journey. You can set up a free account at getsukiru.com and try out our strengths comparison tool.

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Image Credits:

  • Magnet Me on Unsplash
  • Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash
  • Danielle Macinnes on Unsplash
  • Sydney Rae on Unsplash

Tina

Helping professionals around the world explore and navigate their careers

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